Despite a dominant second period, the Sabres were unable to overcome a one-goal deficit in the third as they fell to the Nashville Predators by a score of 2-1.
There were certainly positives to take away in a game where Buffalo was able to hang with one of the most talented (albeit badly depleted) teams in the NHL. Still, after winning ten games in-a-row, three consecutive losses are tough to swallow.
Nashville got the scoring started toward the end of the opening frame when Ryan Ellis potted his second goal of the season. With Nathan Beaulieu in the penalty box, the Predators were able to capitalize on their first power-play opportunity of the evening to give his squad a 1-0 lead.
The Sabres were quick to respond in the opening minutes of the second period. The ice was certainly tilted their way early-on and at 5:20 Sam Reinhart notched his seventh of the season. At first it appeared as though Jeff Skinner would be credited with the goal, but amidst the net-front traffic, it was Reinhart who had the last touch.
With less than five minutes remaining in the period, Nashville took the wind out of the Sabres’ sails when Kevin Fiala registered his fifth goal of the year. The Predators cycled the puck efficiently in the Buffalo zone before he rifled a beautiful shot from the left dot.
It’s hard to criticize Carter Hutton on a night where he stopped 23 of 25 shots, but that’s a goal that he’d certainly like to have back.
One of the big story-lines in this one was the Sabres continued inability to capitalize on the man-advantage. They went 0-for-4 on a night where even one conversion would have made it a totally different game. It’s arguably the weakest facet of the team right now and it needs to be addressed in short order.
Heading into the contest, the Sabres’ PP Unit ranked 17th in the league at 18.7-percent. With the firepower they possess (particularly on the top unit) that percentage is unacceptable. It is important to note that the Predators defense showed why they’re one of the top units in the league, but squandering four opportunities on a given night just can’t happen.
The physicality that the Sabres were met with tonight could prove detrimental as they head back to Buffalo tomorrow evening for a matchup against their division rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Squaring-off with an opponent who is coming off of three days rest will be a very tough test for the blue-and-gold. Puck drop is at 7:00PM.
Final: Sabres 1, Predators 2
Shots on Goal: Sabres 22 | Predators 25
Sabres Goals: Sam Reinhart (7)
Predators Goals: Ryan Ellis (2), and Kevin Fiala (5)
Three Stars of the Game
1. Ryan Ellis (1G)
2. Pekka Rinne (21 Saves)
3. Sam Reinhart (1 G)